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Sep 6, 2010 11:54 AM

How many types of fried rice dishes are there in the world?

I was looking at a restaurant menu that had Malasian fried rice on the menu. For some reason, you have to order it a day in advance because it is labor-intensive to make.

Googling on the web, I really didn't find any recipe to support that. I did stumble on the wiki article about fried rice. I didn't realize there were so many variations

- Arroz Frito (Cuban)
- Bai cha, a Khmer variation
- Canton (or Mui Fan)
- Cha Han
- Chaufa (Peru)
- Chaulafan (Ecuador)
- Curry fried rice
- Fujian
- Hawaiian fried rice
- Kimchi bokkeumbap or kimchi fried rice (Korean)
- Nasi goreng (Malay and Indonesian)
- Omurice (Japan)
- Sinangag or Garlic Fried Rice (Filipino)
- Singaporean
- Thai
- Yangzhou
- Yuan yang

I guess I wasn't paying close attention to fried rice. Any other types?

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  1. My guess is that there are at least as many fried rice recipes in the world as there are grains of rice in one metric ton. Maybe more? '-)

    43 Replies
    1. re: Caroline1

      Like anything, there are as many kinds as you care to distinguish really.

      It is like asking how many kinds of human are there. Some will say there are Asians, Africans,... some make the distinction at Gauls vs Saxons and some goes even finer and some will say there is only a single kind of human being.

      Seriously, I know many people distinguishes fried rice style from Hong Kong vs fried rice style from Canton.

      PS: Sorry Caroline, this wasn't meant to be a reply to you.

      1. re: Caroline1

        Well, thanks for starting this off right. I'm interested in recognized variations. While it may or may not be similar to saying how many varieties of chicken dishes are there in the world, I think most Americans just think of it as the stuff on Chinese-American menus and do you want chicken, pork, shrimp or the house special (all three).

        I've had a few of the variations such as chufa which is interesting to see how Peruvians made it their own.

        Though I might have had them, I'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between Mui Fan, Fujian, etc

        So I hope I'm not going to get a lot of answers like this. I'll concede now I'm a dumb cluck for asking the question. Now can I get some answers about specific fried rice dishes? Otherwise ... ok, I'm stupid for asking and I don't need that posted over and over again. It doesn't help me or anyone else learn anything. Better not to answer then to get answers like these. Being on chowhound long enough, the minute this type of answer is given, the thread flies off in that direction

        But ... you know ... not only wiki but other sources seem to think it is a topic. One of the quotes from the Food Time line

        "Fried a standard method of cooking leftovers, involving frying cold boiled rice with chopped-up meat and vegetables. In really superior restaurants, rice weill be specially boiled and dried for this, but usually old, unused rice is served. The common (and favorite) recipe, however is not Cantonese, but eastern, deriving from Yonchou in the lower Yangtze country; it involved mixing chopped ham, beaten egg, green peas, green onions, and other ingredients to taste, and then rather slowly sauteing the rice. The rice is neither deep-fried nor stir-fried, but chin-left to cook slowly in a little oil, producing a fluffy product with a slight crust."

        I wasn't coming up with much though on Malaysian fried rice and was hoping someone on Chowhound could give me mre info. I guess I'll ask for details when I order it at the restaurant.

        I just thought it was interesting when I came across that wiki article and decided to make the topic broader. Chowhound was the type of place you could ask this type of question and get a good answer from people knowledgable about the subject. I guess I can get my info elsewhere.

        1. re: rworange

          Well then why don't you ask a more specific question? Like, does anyone know of any fried rice dishes from Hungary? South America? "Fried ride," to most English speaking people of the world implies Oriental cooking! Wanna try again and I promise not to answer!

          1. re: Caroline1

            Well, I don't know enough to ask a specific question. Do YOU know if Hungary makes fried rice. If so, that might have been the more informative answer. No. I don't want to try again. What a reply. Since your were not able to provide an answer and are unclear on the subject, I hope someone else willl

            This is a second request to you and others. If you don't have an answer ... please don't give a non answer. That helps no one. It makes me feel stupid and discouranges new posters from asking what might be considered dumb questions for fear of getting snarked at. .

            1. re: rworange

              My goodness! I've really pushed your buttons, haven't I? It was absolutely unintentional. My apologies.

              EDIT: Just for the record, "fried rice" is a dish made with left over cooked rice. Freshly boiled rice does not fry well. Dishes in which the rice is parched in oil and then cooked are not true fried rice. For the record.

              1. re: Caroline1

                For the record, that's not so.

                There's "raw fried rice", a literal translation of the Cantonese name, sang chow no mai fan. This is different than the sauced style already described. Raw fried rice starts with raw glutinous rice. It's stir fried in a wok with a lot of oil, then stock is incorporated in much the same way as making risotto with continual stir frying aiming for al dente texture.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  It's really easy to say it's not so, Melanie. HOW is it not so? If I'm wrong, please don't deny me correct information.

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    Let's see if Melanie and I agree.

                    Caroline, essentially everything you said is correct in spirit. It is true that freshly cooked rice posts more challenge for stir frying and it is also true that raw rice parched in oil and then cooked is not the fried rice we know. I think fried rice is made with "cooled cooked rice", not "left-over cooked rice". Many people make fresh rice and then wait for it to cool (in refrigerator or elsewhere) and then fry it. So technically speaking, it is not leftover.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I was taught, many years ago and by a chef whose specialty was the foods of China, that because fried rice is often made with long grain rice, most especially within the U.S. and Canada, that because of the special properties of long grain rice, it will fry better and have a better finished texture if it used a minimum of 24 hours after cooking. I was taught, and my accrued experience since then confirms, that long grain rice "re-hardens" in the center when stored after cooking. Medium and short grain rices, in my experience, don't seem to do that. I was taught that this is the reason why long grain rice should be cooked at least a day ahead, preferably three, and that the original recipes evolved as a way of using "leftover" rice from the day before while fresh rice was served with the meal when plain rice was called for. Was I taught wrong? My experience with long grain rice since that time seems to confirm what I was taught. It will be interesting to see whether Melanie can offer more information.

                      1. re: Caroline1


                        Melanie has updated her answer (see above). She describes the so called "raw fried rice " or "raw fried glutinous rice (生炒糯米飯). The glutinous rice are soaked in water for a few hours before cooking. So she is absolutely correct that there is a style of Chinese stir fried rice which starts from raw glutinous rice.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Well, it never occurred to me to lump a dim sum glutinous rice dish in with "fried rice." To me, "fried rice" is a term specific to long grain white rice, preferably extra long grain white rice if you can find it, and I don't think I'm alone when I think of "fried rice" in that way. "Sticky rice", aka "glutinous fried rice", is a different category. I spent a couple of hours pouring through Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's "The Chinese Kitchen," a near encyclopedic work on Chinese cooking, and she too differentiates between "fried rice" and "sticky rice/glutinous fried rice."

                          Anyway, I am bowing out of this discussion. I had no intention of creating a storm of dissension. My feelings are hurt, but I'll survive. Thanks for your mediation, CK. You are ALWAYS a gem and a gentleman! '-)

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    Is this chinese sticky rice? It can also be wrapped in leaves? I don't think of it as fried rice, though it is, technically. Along these lines:


                    1. re: chowser

                      It's the same kind of rice but the "raw fried (glutinous) rice" that they're talking about is a separate dim sum item from the rice wrapped in leaves. The raw fried rice is the dish that usually comes in shape of the glass bowl that covers it.

                      1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                        My mom makes both--I've always thought they're about the same thing,except one is in the wrapper and steamed. I've always called it sticky rice and never thought of it was fried rice, though as I said, it really is when you think about it.

                      2. re: chowser

                        No, it is not the wrapped in lotus leaves and served steam rice. It is actually fried in a wok, but in a sorta reversed process. The soaked raw rice is added to the wok with oil and gradually stock/water is added to this. Not in a single shot. I completely didn't think about it because I was too focus on something else, but there is this.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I'm not explaining it well--yes, I know one is made in a pan and one is in lotus leaves and steamed. I'm just saying that to me, they're very similar, in taste so I think of them as such. My mom actually makes the raw rice one in a microwave now. But, I don't consider it a "fried" rice any more than I'd consider risotto or rice pilaf a fried rice.

                          1. re: chowser


                            I see. I got confused. Sorry. Yes, there is absolutely no question that "raw fried glutinous fried rice" is very different in texture, taste and technqiue than other fried rice dishes. As much as we try to talk about the difference between standard Cantonese fried rice vs Japanese style fried rice. These differences just become so small when compared to "raw fried glutinous fried rice". Is it fried rice? I think it is all about one's definition. I know some people consider it is because, afterall, it has the words "fried rice" in its name. I also know others disagree because it is just so far out there compared to other fried rice.

                            I think Caroline, SomeRandom, you and others have made excellent points on this. Personally, I don't know. I have to sleep on this one.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I have no dog in this hunt, just felt I should offer up a brain-twister for you!

                              As you point out, the name of the dish is "fried rice", and if the person who invented it and the folks who eat it all the time call it fried rice, then who am I to tell them they're wrong? At least it really is fried in the preparation, whereas I suspect most of what's sold for Chinese-American take-out never sees a wok.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I've found this discussion very interesting. I've never thought about the origins of fried rice, the different types, what actually makes something fried rice or not--a lot of nuances from what is for the most part leftovers.:-)

                              2. re: chowser

                                The taste will only be the same if you season them the same. The big difference between the two is the texture and aromatics. If your mother is making her raw rice in the microwave, then she's not frying it and is making a different dish. My mother also makes a sticky rice dish in the microwave, but we wouldn't call it sang chow no mai fan.

                                To make it properly in a wok, the stock is added at intervals until its fully aborbed and goes dry before the next addition. The high heat and the action of the oil burnishes the rice successive times to make a texture that is very different from steamed or microwaved sticky rice. It will have separate, almost chewy grains, and is barely sticky.

                                In contrast, the rice steamed in lotus leaves will be softer, stuck together, and fragrant with the aroma of the leaf. The raw fried rice dish has distinct grains of rice and the scent of the wok.

                                It has been some time since I've had a good example at a dim sum house, and I've never attempted to make it myself, as done properly, it takes about 40 to 60 minutes standing at the wok for the additions of liquid. One of the dim sum palaces in the SF Bay Area used to do a really good version with beautiful, plump and al dente grains of rice. It only made one tray (8 or 10 orders) each day, and when those were sold out, there was no more. I guess it takes too long to do well for others to achieve that standard now.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  I was thinking that, too--since my mom made it, used her typical spices, peanuts, braised pork, etc. in all three. She used to make it on the stove but as she's gotten older, she does it more in the microwave now. It's not quite the same but is still good. We called it sticky rice in English but our translation would be oil rice in Taiwanese (yoo bung). You can find it in the DC area, fair at best, but I like to reserve it anyway as a special treat when I go home.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Oh yes, the oil rice. :) My friend's mom made me the home version. It is pretty good, I tell you. Don't you have mushroom as well, maybe my memory is false.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        Heh heh heh. Can you make it? Or only your mom can?

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Only my mom. But, I should probably learn. The problem is, I find it addicting and I'd make it far too often.:-)

                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                            While the Chinese translation may be raw fried rice - if that kind of preparation of rice is included than in addition to including risotto, you're also including the wide variations of pilafs (rice that's fried before cooking) which includes all sorts of different rice dishes.

                            I do think it's fair to distinguish "fried rice" as being made with pre-cooked rice, otherwise the category really does balloon. In the Middle East a large majority of rice is fried prior to cooking, even in "plain" variations. As such there's always a slightly higher oil content to rices and not nearly the tradition of "fried rice" options. Though I once took left over mujjadarah to use in a very make shift fried rice whyich was quite tasty.

                        2. re: rworange


                          I think Caroline has this right. Your question is very ambitious and it can get complicated really fast. In addition, I seriously won't put too much trust on that wikipedia entry. It is very confusing if not completely incorrect.

                          You wrote
                          ""I'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between Mui Fan, Fujian, etc"

                          If you cannot tell the difference between Mui Fan and Fujan fried rice, then that is a major problem. Again, that wikipedia list is really messed up. Mui Fan (燴飯) is not equivalent to Cantonese Fried Rice as wikipedia stated. In fact, Mui Fan does not even have to be fried. I have no idea why wikipedia is so far off. Mui Fan (燴飯) looks like these:


                          Wet with a lot of sauce. Rice may be fried or not.

                          Fujian Fried Rice (福建炒飯) is like this:


                          I seriously have problem with that list from wikipedia, and I really don't want to go one by one as this will get out of hand.

                          If you want to have the broadest caterogies. I will say there are the main distinction between dried fried rice and sauce/wet fried rice. There are egg-based and non-egg based.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Actually, not.

                            I know a few wiki definitions were not quite right. I was hoping for some corrections from knowledgable chowhounds.

                            It was meant to be a broad topic. I see no reason to post separate topics for each type of fried rice and it won't get me the information about different variations because it is not specific to the topic.

                            You seem fried-rice knowledeable. Many of us are not. While I know a little about fried rice variations, first of all I was totally unaware there was such a thing as Malasian fried rice.

                            Second stumbling across that article was a 'huh' momement for me. I never considered that Thai fried rice was different from Chinese. Since I don't eat much Thai food my memory bank just hasn't stored exactly how it iwas different.

                            I'll probably pay more attention to fried rice in the future and wanted information about the variations I should look for.

                            1. re: rworange

                              I see where you are coming from now.

                              There are distinctions to be made from ingredients and distinctions to be made from techniques. (There are arguments to be made where Singapore fried rice actually comes from, but let's forget the origin for a second.)

                              Singapore fried rice and standard Cantonese fried rice differ in the side ingredients, but they use the same main ingredients like long grain rice and egg, and stir-fried in high heat. So they are similar from the technique angle. If you can make a good standard Cantonese fried rice, then you can make Singapore fried rice.

                              Japanese fried rice has very similar ingredients to the standard Cantonese fried rice, except Japanese often (not always) use short and sticky rice. This has more impacts in texture. It also make the cooking technique a bit different.

                              Now, some people may view Singapore fried rice and Cantonese fried rice being closer (like me) because of texture and technqiue, but not Japanese fried rice. Other may group the Cantonese with the Japanese together, but not the Singapore.

                              In short, I think you are perfectly fine to group Thai fried rice with the standard Cantonese fried rice if you like. They have similarities.

                              Sorta like chewy walnut cookies vs chewy chocolate chip cookies vs crunchy chocolate chip cookies. Which two would you group together? I group chewy walnut and chewy chocolate chip together, but I bet you many people see it differently :)

                              1. re: rworange

                                Thai fried rice can be differentiated by the use of salt rather than soya sauce, the Thai's preference of onions over garlic, and the addition of sugar & sometimes a bit of fish sauce (nam pla). Sliced green shallots (spring onions) are added as well.

                                The Thais usually fry/scramble eggs in the wok first, then remove the eggs & set aside, before adding the onions, choice of meats, and then rice to the flavoured oil in the wok to fry.

                                I love Thai fried rice - it seems lighter, less oily & definitely less garlicky than Chinese (Yangzhou) fried rice. Thai fried rice is also simpler than Chinese fried rice (with its use of shrimps together char-siu/roast pork) - there's Thai fried rice with pork (to which a bit of slice tomatoes are added), fried rice with shrimp, or with crab-meat. The addition of a bit of (white) sugar has that caramelising effect on the rice. By not using soya sauce, the rice also has a pale, golden color compared to the Chinese fried rice's darker hue.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Rather than depending on recipes (online or otherwise), why don't you come over to Asia & live/eat here. I should think that there's been so much modifications made to Yangzhou fried rice that garlic is often an integral part of frying rice in these parts of the world. And soya sauce is almost indispensable in Chinese cooking, which is why many cooks will use it (over salt) to flavour their cooking. I do have fried rice (a staple for us) perhaps as often as Americans have their burgers, and I always find those I have to be too garlicky for my personal taste, though some of my friends/relatives may like it. That said, some of my neighbourhood eateries also add oyster sauce to their Yangzhou fried rice.

                                  1. re: penang_rojak

                                    Well, I picked the top three Yangzhou fried rice recipes on google and none includes garlic and I include one hardcopy recipe I have with me. Zero out of four has garlic. Is it possible that someone from somewhere can add garlic, yes, but I am sure someone from somewhere also add garlic to Nasi Goreng.

                                    As for soy sauce, it is very important in Chinese cooking, but that is not the same as Chinese adding soy sauce into every fried rice. Many Chinese fried rice recipes steer clear of soy sauce and relies on salt. Here is another fried rice I like called Salted fish and chicken fried rice and it also does not necessary call for soy sauce.


                                    My point is that those are not the distinctions between Chinese fried rice and Thai fried rice.

                                    1. re: penang_rojak

                                      Are you honestly telling me that Yangzhou fried rice (揚州炒飯) has garlic as a standard ingredient and that soy sauce is a must in Chinese fried rice? The idea that Chinese put soy sauce in everything is nonsense.

                                      I just showed you many real recipes from online and hardcopy, and now you are telling me to:

                                      "why don't you come over to Asia & live/eat here?"

                                      Has it occurred to you that I have just sent you recipes in Chinese and typed in Chinese and that maybe I probably actually lived in that area?

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        After noticing Yangzhou (or Youngchow) fried rice listed on nearly every mainland Chinese menu, I decided to pay a visit a couple of years ago ( - pardon the pathetic resolution of the pictures. I've gotten a camera since).

                                        I "ordered" a plate of it, and boy did I get sick. But that's not the point... it had a whole slew of vegetables and meats, and question marks, but I reckon eggs and mushrooms are a given.

                                        1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                          Ah, I see you have been to Yangzhou. Interestingly, Yangzhou Fried Rice's origin is actually Canton (Guangdong), not Yangzhou. There are a few versions of the story, but they all point to Canton:

                                          "Despite the name, this dish did not originate in Yangzhou (Yangchow; Yeung Chow[2]). The recipe was invented by Qing China's Yi Bingshou (1754–1815) and the dish was named Yeung Chow fried rice since Yi was once the regional magistrate of Yangzhou"


                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            That would make sense, considering that Jiangsu is more noodle- than rice-territory.

                                            In unrelated news, the best 肉夹馍 I had in China was in Yangzhou, but during the weekends only.

                                            Have you been to Yangzhou? They've got a very bizarre swimming pool.

                                            1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                              <In unrelated news, the best 肉夹馍 I had in China was in Yangzhou, >

                                              Good to know.

                                              <Have you been to Yangzhou? They've got a very bizarre swimming pool.>

                                              No, I have not. What so special? Let me guess, there is no water in it? ;)

                                  2. re: rworange

                                    rworange - you were right in that there is no such thing as a Malaysian (or Singaporean, for that matter) fried rice.

                                    In Malaysia and Singapore, where the 3 main ethic groups are Chinese, Malay & Indians, the most common fried rice items are:

                                    1) THE CHINESE (USUALLY YANGZHOU) FRIED RICE - the typical Chinese fried rice which uses shrimp, eggs, char-siu pork, spring onions, and garlic, flavoured with light (and sometimes dark) soya sauce.

                                    2) THE MALAY OR INDONESIAN FRIED RICE - which is basically Nasi Goreng ("Nasi" in Malay/Indonesian language means "rice", and "Goreng" means "Fry"), a fried rice dish which is differentiated from the Chinese version with the fact that it's usually also flavoured with chilli paste with a bit of belachan (fermented shrimp paste for the Malays) or terasi (for the Indonesians) to give it some heat which Malays & Indonesians like, "kicap manis" or sweet dark soya sauce (almost like molasses) and diced chicken meat (instead of pork, as Malays/Indonesians are mainly Muslim). Nasi Goreng seemed to have taken on its own identity, in that it's served with sticks of satays (grilled skewers of chicken or beef), fried chicken, a sunny-side-up fried egg, and some "achar" (vegetable pickles) on the side. Usually, a dollop of sambal (chilli paste dip) is served on the side.

                                    1. re: penang_rojak

                                      Not replying to anyone in particular but "yang zhou fried rice" is a Cantonese invention during the Qing dynasty in Canton.


                                      I don't doubt that people in Yangzhou stir fry rice to eat, but the combo that contains rice, shrimp scallions, bbq pork/cha siu, eggs, maybe peas....all Cantonese. Much like the "Singaporean style fried noodle", is a Hong Kong invention (there's a variant with ho fun that contains curry powder) that has nothing to do with Hokkien Bee Hoon or Hokkien Mee (man I am drooling now thinking about them).

                                      1. re: penang_rojak

                                        Jakarta alone is home to quite a number of nasgor (a portmanteau of nasi + goreng; Indonesia has a bunch of these things) dishes, found just as easily at street vendors as in Chinese restaurants. The achar and bawang merah goreng (fried shallots) make it much more satisfying, IMO.

                              2. re: rworange

                                This is a broad question. Even if a cook starts off w/ a basic technique, he/she will likely vary it substantially. It reminds me of the discussion on risotto using long grain rice--as long as the basic method is followed, people will call it risotto.

                                Most people who've had leftover rice will fry it up in some way, even if it's arancini (would you consider that fried rice?). That's how many different types of fried rice there are. We grew up with ketchup fried rice. I don't know what culture/country/region that came from, though I've heard it's Japanese based. I recently made tilapia jalapeno pico de gallo fried rice. Necessity is the mother of invention, not always something learned. Most asian cooks I know, who've come to this country, make fried rice, not based from their country or region, just whatever they can find. Maybe at this point, it just becomes American fried rice.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  >>> Most asian cooks I know, who've come to this country, make fried rice, not based from their country or region, just whatever they can find.

                                  Yes, but there are areas in the world where there are specific regional versions.

                                  Someone can open a box of Rice-a-roni and fry it up but that doesn't make it a regional SF dish, just something one person decided to do.

                                  If someone put a plate of Sinangag in front of me, I would instantly identify it as Filipino.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    "Even if a cook starts off w/ a basic technique, he/she will likely vary it substantially."

                                    Very true...a friend of mine made a documentary call "Toronto Fried Rice" discussing mostly what you mentioned.

                              3. It was rather curious for me to read those references for Yangzhou fried rice. I had always been told it was an invention of the Cantonese but just given that name. Not unlike Singapore style meifun which is unknown in Singapore but served in HK and Cantonese restaurants. Are you finding any other research on origins of Yangzhou fried rice?

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Hi Melanie,

                                  What is you said is what I understand as well. Most of these fried rice dishes may all indeed trace back to areas around Canton. Nevertheless, they are different styles.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    so would you count yinyang fried rice and chicken and salted fish fried rice as types of cantonese fried rice? what about the fried rice that you get when you order a _______ over rice dish at a contonese place and ask for a fried rice "bottom"?

                                    1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                      That is exactly the kind of question I was worry about. People can categorize differently based on his/her classification. It is like asking "Are Mongolians Chinese?"

                                      Ok, I will try not to give answers without getting myself killed.

                                      Yin yang fried rice 駌鴦炒飯 and Salted fish and chicken fried rice 鹹魚雞粒炒飯 are originated from Canton: Yin yang from Hong Kong and Salted fish and chicken from the general Canton. So there is no question that they are both Cantonese fried rice from a historical origin sense.

                                      However, the kind of standard classic Cantonese fried rice I were referring earlier has a narrower definition and focuses on the long grain fried rice with egg enter the wok first (as oppose egg enters after the rice). I also had in my mind of the dry style and not the sauce style. In other word, the very basic Cantonese style egg based fried rice which many other Cantonese fried rice are built upon. In this narrow definition, Salt fish and chicken fried rice is part of the classic Cantonese fried rice and the YinYang fried rice is not. Now, I probably shouldn't have said it is not part of Cantonese fried rice. I should have been more careful and said it is part of that style.

                                      This is getting very complicated and now we will enter the argument of "what is and is not a Cantonese fried rice".

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Probably urban legend, but:

                                        Here's another irony.

                                        As much as its people would like to have you believe, Yangzhou isn't the place where the Yangzhou chaofan we're eating now came from. Just like any authentic Hainan chicken rice isn't indigenous to Hainan, the simple truth is that Yangzhou fried rice was born in Hong Kong at the turn of last century by some cooks from Yangzhou to please a body of glided youth living in sybaritic style. Before its "yi jin huan xiang" (衣錦還鄉, a Chinese idiom literally means "to return to one's hometown in bling-bling"/a most glorious homecoming), it was lyrically and figuratively called gold and silver fried rice -- a cheap and easy comfort food to feed and fuel the commoners. The sea cucumber, green peas, shallots and chopped ham (in Hong Kong we use chopped cha xiu instead) are just some frivolous smearing to gussy up what otherwise a downright meek recipe: leftover rice fried with eggs. It was the cook who's from Yangzhou, not the recipe.

                                        Affluent dandies toyed by cooks with leftovers and the world follows. Here's yet another irony.

                                        But you know what the biggest irony is? The bureaucrats of Yangzhou Province actually went a great deal of length two years ago to obtain a patent for their Yangzhou chaofan. They were trying to gazette the recipe of Yangzhou chaofan and start asking royalty from every bowl of Yangzhou chaofan fried around the world. Patenting and trying to get rich with something not belong to yourself. This is not just irony. This is classic at its purest.

                                        Surprise by all this? Here's some more malarkey about names and places I find not so foolish: Fujian fried rice isn't came from Fujian; neither is "Singchau" fried noodles (星洲炒米) from Singapore; nor Sai fried rice (西炒飯) from the Occident. Cooks of Hong Kong again, and again, get credit for them all.


                                        And the rice with the mushrooms is Mun Fan, translated as Braised Rice. Yum!

                                        1. re: antonego07

                                          Josh Tse / CXB really knows what he is talking about. He has done tons of research.

                                          1. re: antonego07

                                            Hi Antonego

                                            Yes, Yangzhou fried rice that most people know of is not from Yangzhou, rather it is a Cantonese dish. However, there is indeed real Yangzhou fried rice, or should I say fried rice made from Yangzhou? I think the fact that Yangzhou fried rice has Char Siu (叉燒) should really give that away.

                                            I have read about he patent thing.

                                            Now, I will stress that I were mentioning different styles of fried rice and not different regional of fried rice. An extreme and good example was bought up by Melanie Wong regarding "raw fried glutinous rice" (生炒糯米飯). Although "raw fried glutinous rice" and "salt fish and chicken fried rice" are both Cantonese dishes. I won't call them as the same style. So from the styles point of view, one can distinguish Yangzhou fried rice from Singapore fried rice from Salted fish and chicken fried rice....

                                            I think differentiate by regions can be insufficient, as there are just so many styles of fried rice from Cantonese cuisine alone. I will argue that 2/3rd (or more) of fried rice styles we know of are from that region.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              Hi Chemical Bro,

                                              Probably a useful way of describing a rice as "fried" is if the technique involves starting and ending with frying.

                                              Braised rice starts by frying/parching the soaked no mai (glutinous rice) and then adding the infusion of chicken and ham stock, and finally reducing the mixed ingredients by slow stewing.

                                              Baked rice begins again with frying/parching the "basmati" rice and adding the infusion of spiced lamb/chicken broth to the top as a layer, and covering the top of the cauldron with a lid, sealing the edge of the lid with a pasta "mortar" and baking the ingredients from the top(!) with charcoal laid on the lid, to get biriyani.

                                              PS Dishes normally requiring advance notice are those that have a niche clientel.

                                              Anthony Goh

                                              1. re: antonego07


                                                I have thought about the "raw fried glutinous rice" more and I think it is very interesting, philosophic really. Now, I can see more "for" and "against" arguments, though they have not decisively make me settle on one answer.

                                                The "For" argument are the very straightforward 1) its name includes the words: fried rice and 2) frying is truly involved. These two points are simple and yet strong.

                                                There are a few "against" arguments made by several people already. People who disagree essentially stated that it does not match their definition of fried rice. I will make an argument from a different angle. A very popular argument method used in the certain communities: the null hypothesis approach.

                                                Let's expand the fried rice definition and accept "raw fried glutinous rice", immediately we run into a paradox. Raw fried glutinous rice" is similar to Taiwanese oil rice (台式油飯) and Cantonese lotus leaf rice (糯米雞) in term of ingredients, texture, taste and to some extends, technique as well. It then becomes odd to group "raw fried glutinous rice" along with other fried rice, as opposed to grouping it with the other glutinous rice dishes. In fact, it will be quite inconsistent to include "raw fried glutinous rice" as fried rice, but not Taiwanese oil rice, because these two dishes are made from very similar methods.


                                                1. re: antonego07

                                                  I've brought this up before but would you consider arancini "fried rice"? It starts and ends with frying.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    That depends on how Chemical's "null hypothesis" is framed!

                                                    One way would be to place oneself in the shoes of a fried rice aficionado, who would want a variation on a theme, the benchmark being the universally recognised "Yangzhou fried rice".

                                                    Then, fried rice would have to be rice prepared from boiled rice, further fried and only fried in order to revive it and enhance it, with egg, or other ingredients such as shallots, ham, shrimp and all other usual suspects.

                                                    Arancini would fail the test: it's made from risotto, which is a braised rice.

                                                    Taiwanese fried rice would fail on the same grounds. Ditto Malaysian fried rice, or to address it by its correct title, Nasi goreng. Ditto Cantonese lotus leaf rice, or Chung.


                                                    I'd wink and lower the bar for Lemon rice, if it applied for entry into the club. Its a great experience watching the mustard seeds pop in the hot oil, and then when you add the rice, that pops too!

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      Remember that Cantonese for fried rice is chow fan, meaning stir-fried rice. There is a different word for deep-frying, so arancini could not be called chow fan.

                                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                                          I'm still focused mainly on the Malasian rice and stumbling across other stuff. I'll keep in in mind.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            Well, the closest you'd get to a "Malaysian fried rice" would be Indonesian nasi goreng (see my posts above).

                                            1. re: penang_rojak

                                              I don't know why that restaurant would require 1 day's notice to prepare "Malaysian Fried Rice" unless it's because they want to use day-old rice. Old rice works better for fried rice -- fresh rice is a bit too gummy. But I agree with Penang Rojak's post about the differences. I'll also throw in mamak style nasi goreng from the indian stalls -- they tend to make it a little different from the usual nasi goreng style, even though they still call it that.

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                                          1. Yowsa. I'm a little surprised at all the negative responses you've gotten. Geez. When did CH get so caught up on semantics? Reminds me of a discussion about ice cream being foam.

                                            Anyway, I think that almost every country has their own version of a mixed rice dish. Though not technically 'fried', Paella and Biryani have a sort of fried rice feel...

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: soypower

                                              Hmmmm....considering the technique I use for making pullao (Indian rice dish), I would consider it a fried rice dish.

                                              1. re: soypower

                                                My god. I read through this thread again and am still shocked about the responses the OP received. That said, a friend made me some Peruvian fried rice and I felt I had to make another contribution.

                                                It's really distinctive and so very yummy. Redolent of ginger but not quite fully asian-y tasting. You must try it. Google 'arroz chaufa'.

                                              2. The original comment has been removed